Saturday, March 31, 2007
George Castanza cheated on a game of Trivial Pursuit. That's where I got the word moops...but I know it should be moors. It's soaking wet (moop-like) here this morning. We have a five gallon pail out by the garage that is full to the brim. I suppose that means we've gotten five gallons of rain. The forecast is calling it flooding rain which is not good when we have the Minnesota River two blocks away. I'm not worried about it lapping at the back door but it could make it difficult to get to Mankato.
We've had a quiet weekend, so far. Last night we had lasagna roll-ups that Regis won in a bingo game at work, strange but true. I did some light cleaning (really, all my cleaning is light) and now here I sit, reading and writing and listening to the radio. We're picking Ella up later for a trip to Mankato while Bob and Emily do some furniture moving. We like to take her to the pet store and the new Barnes and Noble. She has some food allergies so Emily is sending a list of food she can't eat. We hope fried potatoes aren't on it because she sure loves those. What a good little Norwegian baby.
I have two tiny pots of pansies on the front step and the daffodils and tulips in the garden are poking up through the dirt. The chives are already about four inches high. I love those signs of life in the garden that looks mostly dead and dirty this time of year. We're going to plant more things that attract butterflies this year. In the past, I've tried things like small water ponds and stones for them to rest on but I never saw a butterfly on them. They like the coneflowers and the Joe Pye weed so maybe I'll encourage more of that.
Tiffany's coming home next weekend for Easter and Peter said he'd be here for Sunday dinner. Maybe even another time so we can celebrate his birthday. I told him I thought this was the first year he wasn't nagging me about what he was getting for his birthday. He laughed. It will be nice, very nice, to have them both here. The other kids are coming for Easter dinner, too. So far, the menu is ham with a Jack Daniels sauce and some kind of cheese potato. The kids all love those hash brown and soup cheese potatoes. I think they taste like wallpaper paste but who am I to argue with popularity. I think I'll have kids bring side dishes so the only other thing I have to make is bread. I have an oatmeal bun recipe I'd like to try.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Addendum: I just read the review again. The character's name is not Layer Cake. Oh, this is too funny. The dude who plays James Bond was in a movie called Layer Cake. But if I took that out of the previous paragraph I wouldn't get to use sardonic. Another thing I read in the review is that there's a scene where James Bond is tied up naked and beaten with a knotted rope. And this is rated PG-13? I can feel another rant coming on....
The transvestite movies we've watched are: Transamerica (actually a transexual movie), The Adventures of Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, and Kinky Boots. They're all very sweet stories about interesting characters who happen to be men who dress like women. Regis watched Blood Diamond last night. He gave it a 5 and said he really liked the story but there was a ton of bloody violence and the noise made my spine hurt.
I'll tell you a thing about Netflix. We subscribed in November, I think. We hadn't watched ten movies in the last five years and suddenly we had two coming at a time. We enjoyed it for a while but during the month of March decided that we would upgrade to three at a time. Watching movies became a chore and we'll be glad to go back to one at a time next week. Like Deb said, if I hear one more time that I have to watch a movie so we can send it back, I'll snap. I do like it because I can find all these interesting movies (about transvestites) that I'd never find at the video store downtown.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
We're watching Blood Diamonds. More like Regis is watching it and I'm peaking at it from behind my hands. It's too much for me but Regis says it's a great story. If you have a taste for diamonds, this story will take care of that. I am a real wuss about movies. I don't like violence even if it's important to the story, I don't like horror or too much suspense, I don't like anything scary at all. I like movies about strange characters as you can tell if you look at my Netflix profile...a lot of transvestite stuff. Ha! At least they aren't killing each other.
Monday, March 26, 2007
I just looked at a blog done by two brothers who have agreed to not communicate with text for a year. They're going to make daily vidoes for each other and post them on the blog. The one today was a video of people with stuff on their heads....cats, computers, birds. That's what I love about blogs, they're so strange. Clearly, I should be more creative but going on a tirade about leaf blowers is about all I can muster.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I put Jim Harrison's books on my list (to the right and down....see?) but I have to say some more. I finished Returning to Earth this afternoon right before my lovely nap. What a writer. He writes about the UP in Michigan and a family who got wealthy exploiting Indians and the land for timber. I like books with characters that I miss the minute I close the book and these are certainly some of those...Cynthia, David, Polly, K. The book is written in four sections from the perspective of four people from his previous book True North, the start of which will knock you back. Returning to Earth is sort of the denouement of the last book so the whole thing will make more sense if you read True North first. Lovely and powerful writing. Highly recommended.
I saw another neighbor raking today...another one not from here. We should have a sheet of instructions for new Minnesotans. One the same note, Regis said he is nervous about fishing here because he is accustomed to fishing for shad (for what?) in rivers in New Jersey and he's afraid people will look at him askance when he does it the wrong way here. He needs a fishing tutor.
Bob set up a website for Ella with some new pictures. This one is of her with an Easter hat and purse from Great Grandma Shirley. She loves hats and bags.
Today is our sunny day. It's about 67 degrees with a nice breeze and blue sky. It's supposed to storm later this morning but it will have to spring from nowhere because there isn't a cloud in the sky. Nothing on the radar either.
Bert woke us up in the middle of the night having some kind of spell. He was breathing hard and kind of limp. Regis petted him for a while and we thought he had passed to the other side. But maybe he was just having a nightmare because all of a sudden he snapped out of it, sat up and looked fine. The other possibility is that he was going toward the White Light and Regis brought him back.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
It's not like the day is a total loss. There have been more signs of spring even though the sky has not cleared and it has begun to rain. I found more crocus and a few daffodils hiding behind an evergreen bush. I went to Fred's Garden Center and bought a couple pots of pansies and a spring flag. The flag says Spring at Last but you really can't tell from the way the garden looks behind it. My goofy neighbor (he's from the South and must think things are the same here) got out his LAWNMOWER today and did that mulching thing to his grass. We still have a little snow, for God's sake. It's way too early for that and can't he just sit in a lawn chair and enjoy one day without depleting the ozone layer? What a pant load. He also cleaned the glass in his yard light which proves he has severe obsessive compulsive disorder. We, on the other hand, have not done one productive thing today. We went to the liquor store and bought lottery tickets. I put ribs in the oven. We had a beer in the yard. How white trash. While we were sitting outside having a beer in a lawn chair watching John deplete the ozone layer, we remembered when we had that big-ass patch of pampas grass in the garden. One day I went out to go to work and couldn't find my car. Regis was on the phone to the police to report it stolen and walked outside to see if there was broken glass. He found my car behind the pampas grass. Whoops.
We saw some great bluegrass music last night. A group called Hit and Run Bluegrass from Colorado played at the Bothy in Mankato. Amazing that you can hear such good music in such a small venue. There were less than a hundred people there and we paid fourteen dollars for a ticket. This is not your grandma's bluegrass music either. The website calls it hard drivin' and I guess it is. Some of the band members were very young...twenty-five years old. And the Bothy shows start early so we were home by 10:30. The problem with so many live music shows is that they don't start until 9 or after and we run out of steam by about 10. We've talked to a few people in bands, suggesting a set that starts at 5 or 6. Doesn't that make sense?
I finally got the St. Patrick's Day detritus put away. The Irish coffee mugs are stowed and the green shamrock glasses put in a box with the cookie cutters, green kitchen towels, and the table linens. Now I can get out the Easter lights and bunny rabbits. I love holidays. I'm thinking about my Easter menu and thinking that I'll do something simpler. Maybe scalloped potatoes in the crock pot with a spiral cut ham and rolls. And sugar cookies.
I found a website dedicated to holidays. What a surprise...there are probably ten thousand of them. Everybody's got a website, a blog, and a MySpace page. Regis said this morning that blogs have gone mainstream. Even the Dalai Lama has one. Today is Houdini Day, this being his birthday. The 22nd was Goof-Off Day and I'm really sorry I missed it.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Just a little sports commentary. What's up with this Tubby Smith? How can anyone take seriously a grown man who lets himself be called Tubby? Of course, I could make a whole long list of men in this town who go by goofy nicknames they had in fifth grade...not mentioning any names. Maybe it's a man thing and what the hell anyway.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Sunday, March 18, 2007
This picture was taken when Tiffany was two years old. Happy birthday, Tiff!
We had a great turn-out for the party. A few people came before the parade, we had a Guinness to celebrate the day, then went down by Patrick's to watch the parade. There are more pictures ono my mac website. Doesn't Regis look good in his Donegal hat?
Tom Hynes and Betty McGraw were two of the best Irishmen at the party. Tom brought shamrock sunglasses for me and the cool cap for Regis. He taught us how to make a black and tan out of Harp and Guinness with a bent spoon. We couldn't figure out how to make the shamrock pattern in the top of the foam, though.
Joanne dressed in green for the party. Joanne's mom's maiden name was Hennessey but she didn't appreciate her Irish heritage. She said the Irish left Ireland for a good reason.
Here are the holiday cookies. I don't know how many dozen we had to start with but there are four cookies left so we can assume they were a hit. All the food turned out just fine. I was nervous...too many things to come together at the same time. I used two different recipes for the corned beef, but this was my favorite. The cabbage really needs to cook in the juice...and in this case, beer.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
It's a flurry around here. I made four loaves of bread last night and Regis and I frosted cut-out shamrock cookies. My usual pattern before a party of big dinner is to get nervous that I don't have enough...sure enough...Regis had to trek back to Mankato for another corned beef brisket. I'm sure we'll be eating corned beef hash and Ruben soup until the 4th of July, but at least we won't run out of food today.
The parades at 3 so some people are coming for a pre-parade Guinness. Pictures and stories later! And it's Tiffany's 22nd birthday tomorrow so we're going up to take her out to lunch and to deliver some presents. Happy birthday to my baby girl!
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I saw my friend Mary today and she reminded me of the time I brought bread out to her house after her mom died. I had two loaves in a large Penney's shopping bag. As I got out of the car, Duke, her yellow lab came out of the garage to escort me into the house. Duke was really interested in what I had in the bag and kept sticking his head in to smell. Mary yelled at him and he would pull his head out for a second but he was right on my heels. As I went through the door into the house, Duke ripped the side of the bag and took off with a beautiful loaf of dark oatmeal bread. Mary and Al yelled for him to drop it and good bird dog that he is, he did. I scooped it up and dusted it off. Mary said Duke thought it was a duck so he didn't even leave a scratch. I'm sure the after-funeral guests didn't even notice a little dog spit on their bread.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
We're having a St. Patrick's Day party, as you may know if you are a regular Buns of Stone reader. I told Regis (and he was not surprised) that I was getting anxious about not having enough corned beef. I bought seven pounds but this is the pattern...I always get nervous about three days before a party and start buying more food like a crazy person. I'm using a recipe from the food network, although not from Emerill. The menu has been fixed as follows:
Boiled Potatoes and Carrots
Irish Oatmeal Bread
And of course, Guinness and Harp for appetizer and dessert. I think I'll make some big cut-out sugar cookie shamrocks with green frosting and sprinkles but they aren't really Irish so I can't put them on the official menu.
I don't have a lot of Irish in my gene pool. I believe my paternal grandfather, Hassa Saum, was Irish. Regis has no Irish in his background at all...he's Polish and German. His maternal side had the family name of Bogacka which is the feminine form and Bogatzky being the masculine form. They sure liked to conserve those vowels. But they don't have parades for the Poles here...the Norwegians either for that matter although now that I think about it I might have a party for Syettende Mai. What the hell.
I picked up two new books at the library. I finally figured out to put books on hold so it's really handy. I have Jim Harrison's new book Returning to Earth and Let Me Finish by Roger Angell. The Angell book has this for a description: Intimate, funny, and moving portraits form this book's centerpiece as Angell remembers his eccentric relatives, his childhood love of baseball in the time of Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio, and his vivid colleagues during his long career as a "New Yorker" writer and editor. The last memoir I read was a complete dud so I hope this one is better.
Jim Harrison is one of my favorite authors and this is what Publisher's Weekly said about his book: Dying at 45 of Lou Gehrig's disease, Donald, who is Chippewa- Finnish, dictates his family story to his wife, Cynthia, who records this headlong tale for their two grown children. Donald's half-Chippewa great-grandfather, Clarence, set out from Minnesota in 1871 at age 13 for the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In Donald's compellingly digressive telling, Clarence worked the farms and mines of the northern Midwest, and arrived in the Marquette, Mich., area 35 years later. As Donald weaves the tale of his settled life of marriage and fatherhood with that of his restless ancestors, he reveals his deep connection to an earlier, wilder time and to a kind of people who are "gone forever." The next three parts of the novel, each narrated by a different member of Donald's family, relate the story of Donald's death and its effects.
We have the movie Babel but man, that seems like work. Has anybody watched that and actually enjoyed it? I think I'd rather wait for Benny and Joon or Kinky Boots. We voted and Babel will have to wait for another night.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Tom and Betty brought a box full of goodies down last night and we did fondue for dinner. Do you do fondue or have fondue? Or is fondue the verb? We fondued. That doesn't sound right either. In any case, we had little bits of rib-eye steak, Cuban bread, vegetables (there were lots of those left) and swiss cheese. We cooked the bread and meat in oil, then in the cheese. For dessert we had strawberries and bananas in chocolate ganache. It smelled like the State Fair in here this morning but it brought back good memories.
When I was in college my friend, Mike Erickson, called that curious dread of Monday that you get on Sunday night, the Sunday psychosis. If you've ever worked, you know what it is. Not that you hate your job but it's the sudden feeling that all the things that go along with working as opposed to leisure are going to slam down on you again the next day. I keep checking my lottery tickets but Lyn says her chances of getting the money by accident are about as good as my winning. Guess I have to keep working, Sunday psychosis or not.
We watched The Prestige this afternoon. It was good but I didn't like it as well as The Illusionist. It was a little too much work to watch. I had to keep checking with Regis to make sure I wasn't missing something. In the end I was annoyed more than entertained. Last night we watched Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. It's about three drag queens who head out across the outback of Australia in a bus. Very strange but there were some great lines.
A Spot of Bother (Mark Haddon) on the other hand, is great. George watched his wife walk into the kitchen in the morning and wondered how he could love this woman with the witch hair and wattles. I laughed right out loud. It's a little dark and twisted but the British humor is hilarious. It would make a god movie but there are too many off-color parts and too much general weirdness. I don't think it would play well in the Midwest. I hate it when the text in a post doesn't fit right with a picture so I'm going to keep writing and try to get this sentence to go to the bottom of the book graphic. There.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
We had a nice time playing peek-a-boo with the edge of the
tablecloth and reading Helen Oxenbury's Tickle, Tickle. It was one of Tiffany and Peter's favorite books when they were little, too, so it's fun for me to read it to Ella. She says "tickle, tickle" at the end and laughs. Such a sweet-natured little girl.
Regis was awake last night from 2-4:30 so he went back to bed after reading the paper. Nice that he can do that now, but it means I have to be quiet this morning. I made tea instead of coffee because the coffee grinder would wake the people next door. I'm anxious to start banging around the kitchen. Betty and Tom are coming for dinner tonight. Tom calls it, "Have fondue, will travel." Ha! It means he'll come with fondue pots and all the food...I just supply the table and the bread.
I have to make a couple loaves of Cuban bread for the fondue and start getting ready for our St. Patrick's Day party next Saturday. I have a new tablecloth and I ordered ten Irish coffee mugs from some place online. I found a great recipe for Irish coffee from an artist name Bill Murphy. I had to print it and put it on my recipe binder. You can find it here: Bill Murphy. He says that using whipped cream products (Cool Whip) or aerosol whipped cream is considered a mortal sin in the Catholic church. And you must use good Irish whiskey. Our plan is to have people here for a Guiness before the parade and then again after the parade for corned beef and cabbage. (In 1978 I had a legendary St. Pat's party in St. Paul that involved Irish coffee and a parade. This won't be a repeat of that performance.) Regis made a great invitation and we're delivering them today.
Our snow is melting fast. Yesterday the temperature was in the high 40's and it might be 60 by the end of next week. Coats and mittens are starting to feel like a bother and my feet can't wait to be liberated into sandals. Socks and shoes feel so constraining.
A rabbit living under my shrubs in the front yard has almost destroyed a winged euonymous. I don't know why he finds that so tasty. Regis knows I won't do anything to discourage the rabbit so he suggested I put out something he (rabbit...not Regis) might like to eat instead of the shrub. I've gotten to be a bit of a joke among some of our friends because I feel the same way about moles. A few years ago, the moles were making the yard on the south side of the house so mushy with their tunnels that I was almost afraid to walk there. The hill in front by the sidewalk had so many mole holes that it looked like it had been shot at by a bazooka from Linda Elvie's front step. Regis mentioned the mole issue to Jim who offered his mole traps. One look at those and all I could think of was Mole Music.
This is from the review: In this tender-hearted picture book, McPhail (Tinker and Tom and the Star Baby) goes underground (literally) to explore the restorative powers of music. Mole feels something is missing from his life, which consists of digging tunnels all day and kicking back in front of the TV in his subterranean home each evening. One night Mole watches a man playing the violin on television ("He made the most beautiful music Mole had ever heard") and resolves to obtain his own violin and learn to play it.
I went to Fred's garden center to ask about something more humane. He sold me a bag of stuff for twenty-five dollars that would "discourage" them, he said. They would likely just move on to the neighbors...where they would be killed by mole traps. I decided they could just live here. They don't bother all that much. So we have a mole and rabbit sanctuary. My neighbor to the north doesn't like critters or weeds. The tall milkweed plants in the middle of my garden drive him crazy. He just points and says, "Roundup!", and I say, "Monarch butterflies!" It's my yard so I get to pick.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Since we joined Netflix, watching movies has become somewhat of an obligation. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean last night and I could hardly stand it. If it hadn't been for Johnny Depp that would have been a complete loser of a movie. As it was, I gave it a 2. Tonight we have Taladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. It's the kind of movie you really don't have to pay attention to...that's a plus on a Wednesday night.
I started a book last night called A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. The review from Publisher's Weekly says: Recent retiree George Hall, convinced that his eczema is cancer, goes into a tailspin in this laugh-out-loud slice of British domestic life. George, 61, is clearly channeling a host of other worries into the discoloration on his hip (the "spot of bother"): daughter Katie, who has a toddler, Jacob, from her disastrous first-marriage to the horrid Graham, is about to marry the equally unlikable Ray; inattentive wife Jean is having an affair—with George's former co-worker, David Symmonds; and son Jamie doesn't think George is OK with Jamie's being queer. Mild-mannered George, despairing over his health, slinks into a depression; his major coping strategies involve hiding behind furniture on all fours and lowing like a cow. Quite a cast of characters.
Well, so far, I wouldn't recommend Taladega Nights. Gads.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
I went to Mankato with Jill today. As usual, we talked so much and so fast that I was nearly short of breath when I got home. We didn't spend much, which is not usual. She had two small bags and I had one with some St. Patrick's Day paper plates and napkins. Target was a madhouse and we both felt the need to get the hell out of there. I think there was something strage going on with their ceiling fans which might mean that the roof was about to collapse. That made me nervous, too. (Could be one of my unreasonable fears...)
Regis will be leaving America's Mattress in about five minutes. Tomorrow he starts flying the friendly skies...oh, wait...that's United Airlines. He'll be working for those folks with attitude...NWA. He'll be home every night and every Saturday. Hurray!
It took Regis almost three hours to get home from work last night. About the time I expected him to walk in the door he called and he was only in Waseca. There were patches of dry pavement, patches of ice, and blowing and drifting snow. One more day of commuting. He starts tomorrow at NWA in Mankato.
I feel like I should relax today since it's the last day of my surprise four-day weekend.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
I just finished a pan of brownies using a recipe from Cooks Illustrated. I really like them (the reviews say not too cakey and not too fudgey) but sometimes a crust forms on top and I can't figure it out. You mix them by hand and I wonder if I don't mix them enough. And now I bet you wonder that, too, unless you use box brownies which are an abomination and don't deserve the name. There's no excuse for bad food....box brownies and store-bought wiener buns fall into that category. Don't even get me started on Pop Tarts and jello.
I've been experimenting with different chocolates and today used Ghiradelli bittersweet chips. If you read about chocolate, those folks are real snobs. The choices in St. Peter are not many and what isn't Hershey is expensive but I wanted to see if it made a difference. Like to time Tom and I tried expensive wine to see if it really was better than cheap wine. It was. The Toad Hollow bottle of pinot noir ($45) beat out the Yellow Tail pinot noir ($9) by a mile. One of us would have to get a better job before we could have that on our regular wine repertoire, however. My current favorite wine is Black Box cabernet. I like the description in the link: Black Box Wines - High-End Boxed Wine: Vintage Dated Bag-in-Box Wines
Ella and I are going up to Tom and Betty's tonight. I bet she'll love Gonzo and Betty's nephew and niece. I'll take some pictures so I have something to post besides snow.
I stuck my head out the back door when I let the dogs out and the snow is swirling around and making drifts. It's so bright you need sunglasses in the living room. All the cobwebs are lit up like Christmas ornaments! I might decide to venture out in the truck for more flour a little later. Got to make more bread, you know. I think what I made yesterday was some of my best. I like using starters and it seems like every loaf is a little different.
Peter made it home from Mexico at 4 a.m. Their flight was delayed because of weather so it was a long day of travel but he said they had a great time. Details to follow, but not all of them I'll bet.
I talked to Tiffany this morning, too. We sent her a package of CD's of music Regis found for her. We like to think we're not totally unhip when it comes to music but he said he hadn't heard of one of those bands. At first he thought maybe it was obscure urban music from bands with one CD...but no...some of the them had put out lots of music. How could this escape us? Have you heard of Cake or Diesel Boy? And why don't these bands have normal names like Freddie and the Dreamers or Herman's Hermits?
Friday, March 02, 2007
It's hard to see the drift in the front of this picture but it's chest-high. We drove to the top of the hill (St. Peter's in the Minnesota River valley, you may not know, which is supposed to protect us from things like tornadoes.) and it's very unpleasant up there. One lane was drifted almost shut and the other one wasn't good. Visibility was poor.
I've alluded to all of my bad-weather cooking in the past week. The Tribune was soliciting stories about the storm so I sent this. You know I could have sent photos, too.
When a snow storm comes, something draws me to the kitchen. Last Saturday, I made a big beef roast au jus, two loaves of French bread from starter that I made earlier in the week in anticipation of the storm, and a batch of molasses cookies. On Sunday, I made a pot of Ruben soup and a pork roast. Since our kids are grown and it’s just my husband and me at home, we have to find friends willing to brave the storm to help us eat all this food but I don’t seem to learn the lesson. This week, I did the same thing. Friday as the ice and snow started, I made two pounds of hamburger into meatballs with a recipe from Emerill. Then I made a pot of spaghetti sauce. Then chocolate chip cookies and Rice Krispie bars. Today, I have more bread on the counter rising. Tomorrow- more friends, more food, more snow. What could be better?Regis is in the living room watching The Departed. I knew with the first beating that this was not a movie I would enjoy so I escaped to the kitchen with my glass of wine and my laptop. I don't care how many Academy Awards it won; I like to pretend that kind of thing doesn't exist.
The news today is full of closed schools, closed highways, collapsed roofs, and accidents. This seems insignificant, though, compared to the tornado news from Alabama. That's very sad and hard to watch.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Well, this isn't exactly how I wanted these pictures to post. The first one is an amaryllis that Jill gave me for Christmas. I wasn't sure I had the horticultural skill to make this happen but it's beautiful and looks very tropical in the midst of our big snow.
The next picture is my garden bunny. He's quite tall (maybe 18 inches) but you can see he's almost buried and most certainly blinded by the snow. When I took the camera out it was snowing heavily and the lens got wet so it was pretty much point and shoot. The next picture shows the garden. The snow is past the seat on Edna's old metal lawn chair.
We had the neighbors, Mike and Erin, over for spaghetti and meatballs tonight...the magician and the physician. Very nice people. I wanted to ask him to make the dirty dishes disappear but I suppose he gets tired of magic jokes. They recommended a board game called Settlers of Catan. You can only buy it in chess stores. Chess stores? I didn't know they existed. Mike's last name is Callahan so he can be the token Irish at our St. Patrick's Day party.